Yesterday I had the pleasure of visiting the University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology. Right off the elevator on the 3rd floor there’s an interactive video presentation of What in the World?, a 1951 Penn Museum-sponsored and produced show that highlighted their collections in a popular game show format. Hosted by then- Museum Director Dr. Froelich Rainey, each show featured two academics and one special celebrity guest. (Vincent Price appeared on more than one episode!)
Dr. Rainey was an anthropologist and teacher, who later worked as an Archaeologist for the University of Pennsylvania. Rainey saw the post-War roles of Museums as that of teaching tools rather than closed academic repositories. Bringing people to Museums proved difficult, so he instead decided to bring his museum to the people through the new advent of popular television.
The exhibit, created by New York-based artist Pablo Helguera, features an Introduction to the show and Rainey [which YOU can view by clicking on the image above] as well as several museum artifacts. Each artifact corresponds to video footage of the show’s ‘contestants’ trying to decipher its ages and historical significance.
Several episodes of What in the World? have been digitally archived and are available for viewing at the Internet Archive.
Until visiting, I was unfamiliar with Penn Museum and it’s contributions to the community. This introduction to Rainey, his achievements as Museum Director, and his television program aimed at open, entertaining education provided an excellent stepping-off point to the rest of the exhibits!
From a BoingBoing reader (via Cory Doctorow):
Library and Archives Canada’s collection is being decentralized and scattered across the country, often to private institutions, which will limit access, making research difficult or next impossible.
Read more about the decisions that will affect the Libraries and Archives of Canada via the links below and find out what you can do to help!
Any Library or Archive in need, is a friend indeed!
The Outer Banks History Center of Manteo, N.C. just posted a few of their newly processed and encoded archival collections. This one, which I find particularly interesting, contains letters from The Edenton Peanut Company. Here is the amazingly interesting and heart-warming abstract (and a picture of a peanut for good measure):
The Edenton Peanut Company was established in 1909 by members of the Wood and
Shepherd families. By the 1930s, Edenton was the largest peanut market in the state and the
second largest in the world. During World War II, Mr. James Wood of Edenton served as the
president of the Edenton Peanut Company. Wood, for whom the company’s flagship product
“Jimbo’s Jumbos” was named, shipped five-pound bags of peanuts to every service member
from Chowan County he could locate. Many wrote thank-you letters back to the company―
some to Mr. Wood, some to other company officers, and some just to the company.
The collection contains thank you letters written in June and July 1943 from men and women
stationed at bases across the United States. The letters contain descriptions of service life,
geography, and social interactions of the time.
If this doesn’t make you want to read these letters, I don’t know what will.
Peanuts! And home-town pride!
freshwater2006's Flickr via CreativeCommons use
Last week Larry Weimer wrote a great blog post for the Brooklyn Historical Society, in which he documented a major BHS processing project: the records of the Brooklyn Bureau of Sewers (ARC.235).
Larry explains a bit about the collection and it’s benefits to the community:
The bulk of the collection consists of the documents compiled by the Bureau of Sewers principally for the purpose of establishing the tax levy to be assessed on those connecting to newly-laid sewer lines from the late 19th century to about 1960. So in addition to information about the expanding sewerage infrastructure in Brooklyn, the collection also includes documents concerning property ownership and maps showing blocks, lots, streets, and sewer paths. In short, the collection can be useful to house and neighborhood researchers.
He’s not kidding either. According to the final tallies:
…The collection holds over 50 feet of documents sprawling across 109 oversize manuscript boxes, record cartons and flat boxes. The variety of material and the changes in sewerage administrative structures over the course of a century also make for a complex collection. We hope to enhance the description with a block level index to the content to make the collection more efficient to use.
The city’s history is one that may never stop evolving. The city-beneath-the-city is no exception, and provides another lifetime of research and discovery. Read more of Larry’s processing overview and/or view the collection’s on-line guide!
Trevor Owens has come to our rescue over on the THATCamp blog, with some suggestions on his favorites, how they work, and most importantly, how they work together.
Phew. Now, which one is right for me? <sigh.>